That’s My Pen

Words means something, but the perception is in the ears of the audience.  My youngest daughter’s teacher (Mrs. Peltier) said to her class one day, “I just saw a Red Man running with a Blue Dog tied to his waist.”  While the rest of the class gave a weird cringe face and playfully mumbled “that’s weird”, Priscilla (my youngest daughter) exclaimed “That’s my Daddy and Blue!”  When Mrs. Peltier told me this story we laughed just thinking of images that were being generated in the student’s minds.  Yet, I was proud and overjoyed that these minuscule details vividly stood out in my daughter’s mind with an accurate picture of me doing what I love.  But let’s take a moment and think about this.  When did we lose that free – yet – powerful mindset of a child?  When we’re young, we know without question that there are no limits to what we can do.  There are no parameters set on what we can accomplish, on what we can create or who we can become!  But…. life…. right?  As time marches on, life chips away at people’s motivation, ambitions, and their belief in themselves.  Wait, who the f*ck is writing this story anyway?

This world is filled with smart people that didn’t make it, that lost hope, and people that had given up.  This world is filled with capable people that lack the courage to listen to themselves and follow through with their plans, but instead they choose to listen to society that says most people don’t make it, most people fail, and it’s too late.

Sometimes we get caught up in who doesn’t support our dream.  There will always be forces trying to convince you to settle where you are.  Don’t fall victim to the common mental setback that “my husband/wife/family don’t understand, support or believe in my dream.”  The question that needs to be asked is “Do YOU understand and believe in your dream?”  Many people will not understand why you’re grinding.  They won’t understand why you’re running 20 miles starting at midnight instead of partying all night at the club.  They’re not going to understand that short term sacrifices lead to long term success; and they’re definitely not going to understand that you’re building a lifestyle that will leave a positive legacy in your absence.  Most people will not understand this, and you shouldn’t give a damn if they do or not!  You don’t need permission to accomplish your goals and pursue your dreams.  Not my permission, not your family’s permission, not loved ones, experts or coaches.  You’ve never needed anyone else’s permission to choose which sentence you’re going to write next in your life’s story.

Children have a Growth Mindset that embraces problems or challenges and views them as opportunities to learn; whereas a Fixed Mindset avoids them out of fear of failure.  So again, when did we lose that free – yet – powerful mindset of a child?  Society tells us that only 1% make it to the top. Now that doesn’t mean you only have a 1% chance.  It means that only 1% of us stick with our program long enough to see the results; and it’s proof that we shouldn’t behave like the 99% because being afraid of failure is not doing anything for us!  Children don’t listen to what we say, but they eventually do what we do.  That being said, be stronger than your excuses, stick to your plan and steward your profession or sport.  My children will never have the opportunity to ask me “How did you give up on your dream?” But they now have the opportunity to ask me “How did you make your dream a reality?”  (Reply) “Each of us have one, and none are exactly the same; a life. Our life is our story.  So when you’re writing your life’s story, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.”

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Jackalope Jam 100 Mile Ultra Marathon Finish (FEB 2020)

 

Live The Dash

          Its been months since my first entry and though I can easily say that I’ve been working;  the truth of the matter is that I’ve been working on myself and success is a generally slow process.  As with any Ultra Run, there’s a lot of ground to cover and so I’ll get started.  If you’ve read my first entry, you know that my first Ultra Marathon was Brazos Bend 50 (April 2018) put on by Trail Racing Over Texas (TROT).  Thereafter, I completed a few more Ultras in preparation for my first 100 Mile attempt at the Brazos Bend 100 (December 2018).  Brazos Bend boasts the flattest and fastest trail race in Texas.  Personally I love this course and because it was the site of my first Ultra, I will always have a special connection to it.  Of course, as much as I would love it to be, this story isn’t all Goodrs and Hammer Gels.

          2018 Brazos Bend 100 was to be my first 100 Mile attempt AND completion.  I DNF’d (Did Not Finish).  Mentally, as much as I wanted to complete this, physically my body was screaming “NO!” as sternly as a spoiled teenager.  It was the hardest thing to walk away from on two different levels.  Level one, I was demoralized.  Incomplete tasks are not my thing, and this fit the mold perfectly.  The phrase “so close, yet so far away” is the best analogy to sum up my DNF’d race.  I was leaving the run with one lap left to complete, but one lap is 16.8 miles!  On the second level, I physically – could – not – leave.  I sat at my camp site for about 15 minutes after the 5th lap and my body stiffened up.  I couldn’t stop shivering, I couldn’t chew food, I couldn’t get out of my chair and when I finally did, I couldn’t walk.  Without exaggeration, it took me about 10 minutes to walk to the car and about another 15 minutes to get into the hotel room (all of this with the aid of my wife).  Each step was more agonizing than the last.  When I finally made it, I sat in a hot shower and dry-heaved uncontrollably until I finally made it to the bed.

          Finishing the 2018 Brazos Bend 100 is the best thing that NEVER happened to me!  That experience lead me to where I am today.  I could have taken my loss and stepped away from running at that point, and I don’t think anyone would’ve blamed me.  Instead, I chose to dissect my experience and learn from it.  Sometimes we can work so hard, be so prepared and yet disappointments may still happen.  In the wake of my DNF, people reached out to congratulate me (on my attempt), to give encouraging words, and their advice.  The simplest, most self-explanatory yet pragmatical advice came from my mom.  “We learn through trial and error, and that’s what you just did.  You know what you want, but nothing’s free.  It takes time and effort, so get to work.”

         At that point, one second became more than a small increment of time.  Even though time is not a tangible thing, we are constantly losing it!  Seconds turn into minutes, minutes into hours, hours to days, months and eventually years.  In those seconds, we are either gaining ground (on our goals) or we are losing it.  Be smart with your time and don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.  On our gravestones there will be two dates; the day we are born and the day we die, period.  In between those dates will be a hyphen; that hyphen represents your life!  I’m not telling you to “live each day like it’s your last because one day you’ll be right.” I’m simply suggesting that we do what we need to in order to highlight, bold, and italicize our own respective dash (life).

          Its inevitable that we are going to fail at something.  We are going to incur defeats, disappointments, pain, and setbacks but those are all steps to success.  Thus far in my running career, I’ve discovered things about myself that I didn’t know before.  I discovered that I compared myself to other runners far too often; and in doing so, I was never satisfied with my own success.  I discovered that even in the face of defeat, I was able to motivate and inspire others, to spread the joy of running, (and through this blog) share my personal running experiences.  I’ve learned to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Endurance running is a beast and the best views are always at the top; but you’ve got to go through it – to get to it.  As of January 2020, I “highlighted my dash” by becoming a newly sponsored athlete with Hammer Nutrition (photo below).  Thank you Hammer for believing in my abilities as an athlete and for supporting this journey to accomplish my goals.  I know that I’m not finished yet, and I appreciate all the things that are molding a better me.  I still have a lot to learn and many more miles to run.  That being said, break time is over….back to work.

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Highlighting the Dash: Hammer Nutrition Sponsored Athlete Photo

And So Begins This Journey….

Let’s kick this off with the question that I get asked the most, “Why do you run?”  As simple as the question seems, it’s difficult for me to provide an accurate answer; with that answer being both meaningful and at the same time, understandable.  The short and simple answer is “because I want to.”  The more meaningful answer is “because I need to.”  The understandable answer is “because running is a gift.”  This will take some explaining, and so begins this journey.

As children we all have hopes, dreams and aspirations.  MUSTS!  Things that we feel we must do within the time we are allotted on this earth.  One of my “Musts” as a child was to run an Ultra Marathon, plain and simple just to say I did it.  As time went by and I grew older, my priorities changed and my “Musts” slowly reverted back into hopes, dreams and eventually becoming “One Day(s).”  Thereafter, they were sent to the back of the line to now stand behind parenthood, work schedules, and a social life.  It was in this vicious cycle that I lost myself.  In life, we all have the same finish line but our checkpoints (things that we want to accomplish) are all different.  I stopped focusing and lost sight of my checkpoints, and once I lost sight, I lost interest and eventually lost my way.  Using alcohol as a stress reliever, slowly converted itself into relieving stress as an excuse to use alcohol.  I deeply underestimated the value of time, succumbed to stereotypes, did things that didn’t align with my goals and I was content living within the confines of my self-imposed limitations.

I still remember the day that all of my inhibitions banded together and conquered me.  In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, I suffered life threatening injuries at the hands of a fellow co-worker/trusted friend.  I woke up in the hospital with a nonresponsive body.  Conscious in my mind but unable to move despite of how much I tried, my first thought was that I was paralyzed.  Slowly and painfully, I began to recoup strength and mobility.  As I lay there unsure of the situation, I went through a roulette of emotions that stopped on “determined” the very instant the Medical Staff broke the news to me. “We thought we lost you.  We didn’t think you were going to make it through the night.   Your road to recovery is going to be a long one, and you (most likely) won’t be able to walk for at least 6 months; nor will you ever be able to run the same.”  It was at that very point in my life that I realized that all my hopes and dreams had come to me to turn them into reality and not only did I fail them, but I failed myself.  This was a turning point in my life for sure.  Had I taken the Medical Team’s advice to lay, rest, and recover; who knows where I would be or what would have become of my Musts, hopes and dreams.  That being said, my idea of recovery was using my IV Stand to hold myself up and pace back and forth around my bed; forcing my body to relearn the simple mechanical actions of walking.  At first, it was only seconds but eventually minutes started to stack up and (of course as a runner) I just counted it as “Time on Feet” training.  The Medical staff would stop me, get me back in bed and stress the importance of resting.  I did not argue, and I understood that they meant well for my body’s physical recovery.  They say “the heart wants what it wants,” and mine wanted to recover quickly and get back to work; with personal development at the forefront.

Though this incident has its (negative) lasting effects, I did not leave it behind without taking something (positive) for myself; a refocused mindset and a greater sense of respect for time, family and personal health.  It’s mentioned so often that it almost sounds cliché but the words ring true for us all at some point in our life.  The one thing that we can never get back is time.  We spend our time at work in exchange for money, and we use that money to provide and spend time with our family.  Hearing the words “you may not make it through the night” are hard on your heart, and it’s in those moments that all you want is time.  Time to spend with your family and time to do things you wished you had while you were healthy and able to do so.  After years of prioritizing everything else, I used this as an opportunity to refocus on my “Musts” and realign with my goals.  After all of humanities technological advances, breakthroughs and earthly spoils, all I wanted to do was run.  Finding advice and motivation in books, magazines and local athletes, I signed up for my first Ultra Marathon from my hospital bed. From hospital bed to Ultra Marathon runner in 8 months.  I love challenging myself, but this one is going to hurt like a motherf*cker!

Now that you know the backstory, you have an understanding why I love to run and why I consider it a gift.  This experience is best summed up in my mantra.

I’m Not A Survivor, I’m A Warrior     

I Don’t Survive, I Strive

I Can Do This, I Will Get Through This

One Step At A Time, Running Is A Gift                                                           

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Completing My First Ultra Marathon: Brazos Bend 50 (April 2018)